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Upper Midwest: May Gardening

A Wisconsin Master Gardener shares spring tips and local news

Jeanine gardens in Oxford, Wisconsin, and she is a member of Thyme Shares Master Gardeners & Friends

A frequent question this time of year:

“When can I cut down the foliage of my spring flowering bulbs?”

Answer: This is an easy one for me to answer because my Dutch heritage has made me a lover of spring flowering bulbs, especially tulips and daffodils! Wait until the foliage has turned completely yellow, because it’s the foliage that produces the food for the bulb to be able to regenerate itself to bloom yet another year.

The oddest gardening question ever received:

The oddest question I’ve been asked is concerning a mound-type septic bed and how close to it, if at all, a person could have a vegetable garden. I could not answer this when I was asked, but I did find out the answer, which follows. You should not plant edible plants such as vegetables or herbs on a mound or drain field. Trees or shrubs should be planted no closer than 20 feet.

A recent gardening trend in this area:

This is not a trendy area, but I would say that Neil Dibolls’s Prairie Nursery, which makes its home in Marquette County, Wis. has had quite an influence on accentuating what has always been here. Many gardens in the area showcase a pleasing mix of native plants and grasses that co-exist beautifully with more familiar perennials. I have also observed that I am among those who would love to have a water feature, especially the low-maintenance pondless waterfalls that have recently become an object of desire for many of us.

Volunteer activities of Thyme Shares MGs & Friends:

Last year we finished a five- year project renovating the Marquette County Museum’s gardens. We faced many challenges, such as numerous bridal wreaths in need of extensive pruning and lilies gone wild! The gardens consisted of mainly orange ditch lilies and lily of the valley, which ran rampant; of course they can certainly be lovely, if kept in bounds. Much has changed in the past 5 years with the addition of many choice shrubs and perennials, as well as a quaint kitchen herb garden. We strived to maintain that old-fashioned look by keeping with perennials that have an heirloom heritage, but we tried to use modern disease-resistant versions whenever possible. We have made a commitment to maintain these gardens on a long-term basis.

We have also just concluded our annual fruit tree sale. This is our biggest fundraiser for the year, and every year it grows bigger and better. We sold over 900 trees, as well as a huge number of various berry plants and grapevines at very reasonable prices. Monies earned help with outreach projects throughout Marquette County.

About Jeanine: As I grow older, I find that the place I truly love to be when gardening is in the shade. As the hot sun beats down wilting everything in sight, and hot flashes abound, what could be better than the paradise and serenity found in a shade garden?! We recently moved, but I was fortunate to be able to take divisions of many perennials I couldn’t live without, especially my hostas. The garden is starting to take shape, after I waged war with burdock and stinging nettle to name a few. I’m not a huge fan of herbicides, or pesticides for that matter, so it was hand-to-hand combat! The battle was won, and I was able to save many of the native ferns and Solomon’s seals among others. While it’s truly hard to name favorites when it comes to plants, I would have to say all varieties of lilies and hostas are tops on my list.

The love of my life, Jim, and I recently celebrated our 40th wedding anniversary. We have raised 2 wonderful sons, and we have 7 beautiful grandchildren. We stay busy helping out with the care of our grandchildren, the special buds of my life! When not in the garden, I enjoy watercolor painting, and a variety of crafts.